In a declassified version of a report given to U.S. President Barack Obama, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has concluded that not only did Russia engage in hacking efforts to perhaps affect the U.S.’ election process, but that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered it.
According to the report, “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” The report also claimed that Putin showed a preference for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
The report came out just days after Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, told the press that the Russians were not responsible for the release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Democrat nominee Hilary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
It is important for everyone to understand the report does not speak in terms of absolutes. In fact, both the Central Intelligence Agency and the FBI stated they have high confidence in the report’s disclosures while the NSA was only able to express moderate confidence in the findings.
In case Clinton were to have won the election, it appears Putin may have had a plan B. According to the intelligence reports, “Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.”
During the election process, Trump completely discounted the notion the Russians were responsible for the release of such controversial information. Today, he seems more directed towards promoting the idea that even if they did perpetrate the activity, it in fact has little effect on the elections.